Witness describes scene inside restaurant during holdup

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A woman identified as Angelic shares her experience when a Phoenix restaurant she was dining at was robbed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A woman identified as Angelic shares her experience when a Phoenix restaurant she was dining at was robbed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

It was an ordinary Sunday night in a north Phoenix restaurant until the gunman burst through the front door.

"I remember thinking 'this isn't happening, this isn't real,'" said Angelic, whose last name we agreed to withhold so she would tell us the story of what she saw and what she did that night.

"My attention was taken because of a shotgun going off. Everyone turns and looks and there's a man, a gunman, mask on, ball cap, hoodie, huge shotgun in his hand and he's yelling 'I need everyone's money if nobody wants to die,'" said Angelic.

She was at the restaurant, having dessert with her two young children.

"We got under the table. I immediately dialed 911, and honestly, I was scared to even call," she said.

[Special Section: Empowering you to be safe]

But the information Angelic gave to the 911 operator that night may have played a role in the police responding so quickly.

"I could see him from under the table. I could see him the entire time," she said. "He was walking up and down the aisles, pointing the gun at people and demanding money," she said.

Angelic remained calm, and experts say that is critical if you want to survive an armed robbery like this one.

"The vast majority of robberies, nobody gets hurt," said Kevin Boontjer, a retired Tempe police sergeant. "The people come in. They scream and yell. They get what they want and then they leave the scene. And ultimately, that is the end game you want," he said.

Boontjer teaches people how to react during stressful situations as part of his job with Triple Nine Training. He says the key, most often, is to cooperate.

"This isn't a pride contest. We don't decide who is going to be the toughest or the most macho. You do anything they tell you to do, short of endangering somebody," said Boontjer.

The three common survival options are:

  • Run if you can safely get away
  • Hide if the gunman has not seen you
  • Fight only as a last resort

"The 'fight' should never come into play at all, as long as it stays a robbery," said Boontjer.

Police caught the alleged gunman in north Phoenix later that same night. Nobody was injured in the robbery, but Angelic says the experience changed her.

"There was a moment when it started, when I thought we might not make it out of here," said Angelic.

She has sought counseling for her children and took a course on how to carry a concealed weapon the very next week.

"I don't ever want to feel helpless like that ever again," she said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter on the CBS 5 Investigates team. His reports have landed crooks behind bars and led to changes in state law.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

He has exposed conmen who prey on the elderly and predators who target women and children. Morgan combines his legal training with the experience he’s earned over 20-years of news reporting in Arizona to break big stories and dig beyond the headlines. His stories about education, consumer scams and crooked politicians have gone on to make national headlines. Among his favorite investigations are the ones that take him undercover. In addition his hidden camera investigations on drug and human smuggling, Morgan infiltrated some of the most dangerous militia and vigilante groups in the southwest. Members were later charged with crimes that range from murder to child molesting. Over the years, Morgan’s work has appeared on CBS News, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and NPR. Morgan won ten Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, earned his Juris Doctorate at Concord Law School, teaches media law at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and is the president of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, Inc., which advocates for open records and open government. When he’s not working, Morgan enjoys camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats, and spending time with his family at their ranch in southern Arizona.

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